Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 007

Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 007
Here to close out 2016 on the blog is Batch 007 of Laphroaig’s 10, CS. I’m not sure if Batch 008 made it to the US—I haven’t seen it in Minnesota, at any rate. This year we got a bit of a scare when word began to make the rounds that the 10 CS was going to be discontinued after Batch 008; the distillery put out statements shortly thereafter to reassure customers that this is not true (I covered all this in my review of Batch 006 earlier this year). Since then, however, I’ve been told by a reliable person that he’d heard first-hand at Feis Ile from a high-up at the distillery that the 10 CS was indeed on the chopping block—so who knows? If it is going out—and I hope it is not—I hope it will go out strong. The series took a big dip with Batch 005. Unlike some others, I thought Batch 006 was a big improvement, and I’m hoping Batch 007 will be further along in that direction. It certainly has been received a lot better than Batch 006 (see here for Grinch Kravitz’s take). Less vanilla and more phenols: that’s what we want.  Continue reading

Laphroaig 20, 1996 (TWE “Masterpieces”)

Laphroaig 20, 1996, TWE "Masterpieces"
After a week of bourbon reviews (all Four Roses single barrels: here, here and here) let’s close out the month with single malt whisky. This Laphroaig was bottled by the Whisky Exchange for their annual Whisky Show in October and was apparently a huge hit there. Remaining bottles made it to the website with a single bottle limit per customer. I snagged one before it sold out. Why the fuss? Well, it’s a 20 year old Laphroaig from a sherry cask, and a PX sherry cask at that. (I should say that I have no idea if this was matured full-term in a PX cask or if it finished its life in one—these days in the Scotch industry it’s best not to take anything for granted.) Between the Islay premium, the Laphroaig premium and the sherry bomb premium this was not a bargain bottle—but as a Laphroaig fan it was hard for me to look past it. As I’ve said before, the successful marriage of peat and sherry is one of the greatest things in the whisky universe and Laphroaig in particular stands up to heavy sherry really well. Anyway, let’s get to it.  Continue reading

Laphroaig Lore

Laphroaig Lore
The Lore is a new entry in Laphroaig’s lineup—which is so much larger suddenly than it used to be when I first acquired whisky derangement syndrome. It is apparently the replacement for the discontinued 18 yo and will see batch releases every year. It will not surprise you to learn that it is a NAS whisky. The talk around it is that there’s a mix of ages and cask types in the blend but it’s probably the case that most of it is very young. It’s also said to be an attempt at putting together an expression of Laphroaig that pulls together all parts of their profile—young, old, bourbon cask, sherried, wine cask etc. But if there’s a lot of sherry cask spirit in here I will be almost as surprised as I would be if there turned out to be very much in here over 10 years of age. If pressure on teenaged stock is what made the 18 yo go away and the 200th anniversary 15 yo just a one-off, then there’s probably only just enough older whisky in here for them to be able to wink in its direction without too much embarrassment. Well, as I purchased a bottle anyway and am reviewing it I guess I shouldn’t get on too high a horse about this—what can I say? I’m a fan of Laphroaig and people I trust said it’s a good one. Well, let’s see.  Continue reading

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016
The 2016 edition of the Laphroaig Cairdeas has been in the US for almost two months now and I’ve finally got my hands on a bottle (okay, two bottles). I am very happy to say that I paid only $5 more per bottle than I did for my first bottle of Cairdeas back in 2011. And I’m also very happy that those of us in the US still have no difficulty purchasing the Cairdeas which is always widely available here, unlike every other Feis Ile release which require trips to Islay or large amounts of money or both.

Last year’s edition of Cairdeas was a classic bourbon cask Laphroaig. This year’s edition, however, returned to the wine cask experiments that marked the previous few years (the 2014 release was double matured in amontillado sherry casks and the 2013 in port casks). This year’s has been double matured in “Madeira seasoned traditional hogsheads”. I assume these means that these were not casks actually used to mature Madeira. The wine influence should therefore be mild. I’m curious to see what it’s like—though as a Laphroaig aficionado the odds are against my not liking it (please keep this bias in mind).  Continue reading

Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 006

Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 006
I’ve reviewed the five batch releases of the iconic Laphroaig 10 CS previous to this one (though not in sequential order): see here for Batch 001, here for Batch 002, here for Batch 003, here for Batch 004, and here for Batch 005. I’m not the only one who was not very excited by Batch 005, though I did like it. I’ve heard that Batch 006 was a return to form and that Batch 007 and 008 have gone further in that direction. I hope it’s true.

What I hope is not true is the report that the Laphroaig 10 CS is being discontinued altogether after Batch 008. Words to this effect were typed yesterday by Louis Dachis, the proprietor of Ace Spirits here in Minnesota. He didn’t have the clearest information and said he’s going to check, but Louis is generally a trustworthy sort. That said, there have been rumours of the 10 CS’s demise before that proved unfounded. However, we are in a time when the 18 yo has been discontinued and when Laphroaig—who once had a streamlined portfolio—are pumping out the NAS product, and it would not surprise me if the 10 CS had to make way to feed those vats. It will deeply sadden most whisky geeks though—this is one of the most beloved of all single malts, and in one label style or another, has been around for a very long time. It has also always been very fairly priced. If it is indeed being discontinued it will be hard not to see this as the end of an era. Again, I hope it’s not true. Continue reading

Laphroaig 21, 1994 (Cooper’s Choice)

Laphroaig 21, 1994, Cooper's Choice
It’s been almost four months since my last Laphroaig review, which seems too long. I acquired this large sample as part of a bottle split at the same time as the sample of the Ledaig 17 from the same bottlers (Cooper’s Choice) that I reviewed in April. That was also a heavily peated whisky from a sherry cask. Unlike that one, however, this Laphroaig 21 is not at cask strength. It’s also apparently still available, which seems odd for an older Laphroaig from a sherry cask. The skeptical might wonder if that means that this is not very good, possibly sulphured. Might that be why they diluted it to 46%? Maybe, but it’s equally likely that they did it to get more bottles out of the cask and into the budgets of more drinkers. Anyway, I quite liked that Ledaig 17—ended up buying a full bottle—and if I like this as much, and it is indeed still available, I might consider a bottle of this as well. It’s not every day, as I said, that an older, sherried Laphroaig shows up.  Continue reading

Laphroaig 17, 1997 (Signatory for Binny’s)

Laphroaig 17, 1997, Signatory for Binny's
Monday’s Laphroaig 18, 1997, bottled by Berry Brothers and Rudd for The Whisky Exchange was a real beauty with unexpected fruit and a lot of it. Will lightning strike a second time with this 17 yo also distilled in 1997 and matured in a bourbon cask? Am I going to have to start hunting down Laphroaigs from the late 1990s bottled in the high teens?

This was bottled by Signatory for Binny’s in Chicago. Binny’s have an excellent track record with their Laphroaig selections and so even it isn’t as fruity as the TWE/Berry Bros. & Rudd I expect it will be very good anyway. Let’s see. I should note that the regular price is in the new normal range for Laphroaig (i.e $169.99 for a 17 yo)—but it’s currently discounted down into the almost plausible range ($129.99).   Continue reading

Laphroaig 18, 1997 (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

Laphroaig 18, 1997, Berry Bros. & Rudd for The Whisky Exchange
This Laphroaig was bottled for the 2015 edition of the Whisky Exchange’s annual Whisky Show in London. I’ve tasted and purchased a number of these special bottlings over the years and they’ve always been very solid. So when the opportunity arose to get a large sample of this bottle in a split I jumped on it. As you will see below, I was not disappointed (this “introduction” is being written well after the notes were taken). Whisky geeks who are older and/or have more money rave about the tropical fruit notes in Laphroaig from the 1970s and earlier—notes that are not really present in latter day Laphroaig, which has tended to be all about the heavy peat and smoke. This one, from a cask filled in 1997, has a big whack of fruit; last year’s 200th anniversary release of the Laphroaig 15 had some fruit as well. Is this a note that’s re-emerging in middle-aged Laphroaig distilled around that time or is it just a case of unexpected things happening in certain casks? More data needed but it’s a welcome development if true.   Continue reading

Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 002

Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 002
For my last whisky review of the year I am going to back away from the older whiskies, from the independent releases and go to a 10 yo from my favourite distillery: Laphroaig. But don’t worry, I’m still annoying! It’s not a currently available 10 yo! No, it’s the second batch release of the venerable 10 yo CS.

With this review I am caught up on the first five batch releases of the Laphroaig 10 CS. In 2016 I’ll try to get current (are we up to Batch 007 in the US—did the distillery miss a chance to release/co-brand that with the last Bond film?) Long story short: I thought Batch 001 was excellent and that Batch 003 was very good; Batch 004 I rated a little below that and Batch 005 lower still. I am happy to be able to say that Batch 002 is very good as well. After keeping the bottle on my shelf for years I opened it a few months ago for a tasting and it made 80% of those present very, very happy (the other 20% are not fans of peat and it made them the opposite of very, very happy). I liked it so much that I jumped on the opportunity to purchase a second bottle at the original price. Anyway, here, only five years after its original release, is my review. Continue reading

Laphroaig 13, 1998 (Kintra Whisky)

Laphroaig 13, 1998, Kintra Whisky
Closing out my week of Laphroaig reviews, here is another 13 yo, but unlike Wednesday’s 13 yo from Duncan Taylor (and also Monday’s 17 yo from SMWSA) it was not distilled in 1997 or matured in a bourbon cask. This is from a refill sherry cask filled in 1998, and was bottled by a relatively obscure Dutch outfit named Kintra Whisky (and seems to be the only Laphroaig they’ve yet bottled)—back at the start of the decade there was a lot more indie Laphroaig around than there is now. This is another bottle that I purchased a long time ago and kept unopened for no good reason. I finally opened it, alongside the Duncan Taylor 13 yo, for one of my local group’s tastings earlier this year (it was a tasting that featured two 14 yo Springbanks and two 13 yo Laphroaigs, one each from bourbon and sherry casks). I liked it fine then but found it a bit raw (and more than a bit sulphured). Since then it’s mellowed considerably and I’ve been enjoying it more. And now it’s time to take some notes.  Continue reading

Laphroaig 13, 1997 (Duncan Taylor)

Laphroaig 13, 1997, Duncan Taylor for Binny's
Here is the second of three Laphroaig reviews this week. Like the first (this 17 yo from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America), this was distilled in 1997 and matured in a bourbon cask. It’s a bit younger though, having been bottled at 13 years of age by Duncan Taylor for Binny’s of Chicago back in 2011. I remember that this cask took a long time to arrive at Binny’s and that I was rather obsessed with tracking its arrival—I think it was first mentioned in their Whisky Hotline in early 2011 but it finally showed up in 2012. This is partly because back then is when I was the height of my whisky derangement (having recently arrived at that state), and partly because Binny’s had released a few rather excellent (and well-priced) bourbon cask Laphroaigs and the odds seemed good that this would be another one. Having waited for it for more than a year I then didn’t get around to opening it for more than another three years. I guess I wanted to stay in a state of permanent anticipation. Yes, this is fascinating biography. Continue reading

Laphroaig 17, 1997 (SMWS 29.164)

Laphroaig 17, 1997 (SMWS 29.164)
This is the first of three Laphroaig reviews this week. This one was bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America and in age, strength and cask type is very close to the recently discontinued OB 18 yo. I think I am in a bit of a minority among whisky geeks in liking the OB 18 yo a lot, but if this is close to it then I’ll be happy, Of course, being a SMWS release means it cost almost twice as much as the OB 18 (in Minnesota anyway). I have to also say that my batting average with recent SMWSA releases has not been stellar: 85 points for a 23 yo Clynelish, 87 points for a 22 yo Highland Park, 87 points for a 13 yo Springbank—these are not poor scores by any stretch of the imagination but the mystique of the SMWS promises better, and they’re certainly not shy with the prices. Will this finally be the bottle that convinces me that I should sign up for a membership?

Oh yes, the SMWS called this one “A Ballerina at the Barbecue”. Continue reading

Laphroaig 25 (2014 Release)

Laphroaig 25, 2014 Release
After last week’s 2014 release of Lagavulin 16 let’s do another 2014 release from an iconic Islay distillery. This one is quite a bit more expensive than the Lagavulin 16, though, despite being only nine years older: the 2014 release of the Laphroaig 25. This is now down to 45.1% abv. Considering that earlier iterations hit the bottle at much higher strengths, and that global warming hasn’t lifted Scotland’s temperature quite that much yet, it seems likely that this is a case of trying to stretch stocks as far as they can. Whether this is to try and sell even more of this overpriced malt (though the price seems to slowly be creeping down, it’s far away from being reasonable), or whether it’s because they’re genuinely strapped for aged stock (see again the demise of the 18 yo), I’m not sure. At any rate, I’m curious to see if I like this more than the other two Laphroaig 25s I’ve had—the 2009 release (which I’ve reviewed) and the 2011 (which I haven’t). I liked both of those, but not as much as far cheaper and younger standard bottlings from Laphroaig. Continue reading